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Celebrity Buzz

Don’t you just love celebrities? Movie stars, TV soap actors, singers, auto-tune non-talented singers, I mean there are so many celebrities for so many different reasons it’s no wonder pretty much anyone can have their 15 minutes of fame. I am, without a doubt, a fan of Strictly Come Dancing. I used to do Scottish Highland and Country dancing (I got to the swords, couldn’t get it at all and unfortunately I quit). But I do so love to watch people dance on Strictly. From Foxtrot to the Jive, I always look forward to seeing what the celebs get up to. What do I find most enjoyable? Watching my favourite pro dancers.

Brendan

One of which is Brendan Cole. Apparently he was quite the womaniser and has an ego bigger than Jupiter (I believe NASA is aware of this), but there is something in his energy, his sharpness, his determination. I won’t pretend to know what he’s like, and frankly I don’t care to, I just like watching him dance. Yesterday evening I thought to myself, as my phone went through all the music on shuffle, ‘God, I would so love to dance with Brendan Cole to this song.’ So distracted was I by this thought that I tweeted it. Ah, the power of Twitter. One simple tweet to a celebrity and you feel like you’re somehow conversing with them. Who cares if they don’t immediately get back to you? It’s just lovely to say hi. I must admit, it’s also pretty scary. I’ve seen some fans get rather, well, emotionally attached and thus very fan-girly. It can get rather frightening! I’m more of a ‘I admire you for your work!’ kind of girl as opposed to the ‘HOLY OMG I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES!’ Although my tweet was purely for my own amusement, what I didn’t count on was a response.

Tweet

‘Thanks : )’ How utterly adorable. Brendan Cole, pro dancer on Strictly and one of my all time favourites, tweeted me. Me. For two seconds out of his life, he looked at his Twitter account, looked over his many daily tweets (I’m assuming here), saw my comment, and decided to respond to his fan. I won’t deny I was on a high for at least an hour about it, but it made me wonder… Do celebrities realise how much ‘power’ they truly have?

x men

I don’t mean like an X-Men power, or the power  to dominate all life, but the power to make someone’s day with one simple gesture. I wonder, do they realise it? I admire Brendan’s dancing and he has real flair, for a simple ‘Thanks : )’ it made the rest of the evening awesome. Can’t rain on my parade tonight, Brendan said thanks. How sad! And yet, if your favourite celebrity acknowledged you for two seconds, I guarantee you’d be the same. Having said that, my dad met Eric Clapton. In a bar. In Russia. Dad was already at the bar, when a man sat nearby. He looked over, as you would, and instead of a random person, it was Eric Clapton. They had a nice chat, since the bodyguards practically sealed the entrance from fans or media coming in. I’m sure my dad felt awesome for a while after! And how nice of Clapton to take time to, not boast around saying ‘Oh look at me, I’m a celebrity don’t you know!’, instead take a minute to just chill out and have a human conversation.

At the end of the day, that’s what we all are. I’m no celebrity and have no intention of becoming one, but it’s nice to make a little good for someone else. I like doing kind things for strangers in the hope I can brighten their day. Even just a little. Like Brendan did for me.

Can I Have A Tea With That?

As of five days ago, my mother and I decided to watch every single Harry Potter film. Not all at once, of course, but every evening we’d pick the next in the series. Currently we’re awaiting the Deathly Hallows. Although these films have been out for quite a while and I know what happens in them, I haven’t seen the last two films. Why, I hear you wonder? Well, because I’ve always been fond of the twins. And for obvious reasons I wanted to spare my eyes the sadness of their fate.

Twins

It goes back to a previous post where I explain about characters and the impact they have on our lives. For instance, I have a running joke with my best friend about Jonas from the short BBC mini series The Paradise. Equally I was in a state of near hysterical grief when my favourite characters in Mass Effect 3 suddenly died. When I say impact on our lives it sounds rather ominous, like I’ve changed my whole being due to these fictional characters. That’s not what I mean. Whenever I hear the song Mordin, I get sad. I don’t cry, but I am saddened. Likewise every time I think of Jonas… Sorry, I needed a second to stop laughing. The Weasley twins for me made the Potter films whole. Splitting them up is something I just didn’t want to see.  I couldn’t imagine George without Fred so I merely ignored it. Now I’m not a fan of the books, but I am of the films, and it was the Phelps twins screen presence I so admired. I knew when they were about, mischief wasn’t far behind. The idea that the mischief would be ripped apart… I’m still not sure if I want to see it!

tea with phelps

Due to all the Harry Potter films we’ve been watching, I have been dreaming a lot of the characters. One of my absolute favourites is Hagrid. I shouldn’t have to explain why he’s such a loveable half-giant! Snape is a strong favourite too and his story arc is the most tragic, heart-felt and gut-wrenchingly sad. Yet despite these other characters its the twins who creep into my dreams in the most adorable manner. Indeed last night I dreamt the Phelps twins, not in character, took me to a National Trust manor somewhere in late Spring, when the flowers were in full bloom and the air was warm. Outside, we wandered around taking in the scenery before messing about in a small maze. After the laughs came a spot of tea outside next to sweet smelling roses and lush lavender. Tea and cookies with the Phelps twins. Their conversation was great, they were incredibly friendly and Oliver couldn’t help but have the last cookie. And that was it. I woke up thinking, ‘N’aww, how nice!’

It’s a little cruel really as, in the next couple of films, Fred will die. But at least the tea was nice.

Yesterday we were all going to go to the Gloucester Victorian Market, an fun family friendly annual event that showcases local goodies such as jams, paintings, cheese, mulled wine, an old fashioned carousel, actors dressed in Dickensian attire, and a sea of other stalls. I remember going last year and how much I loved seeing all the top hats (can we bring those back?). Due to the rain and flooding all over the UK in the past few days now, we hadn’t gone earlier. Sunday morning swung round and we decided, rather spur of the moment, that we would go to a local cattery and have a look at rescue cats. After all, what is a ship without a ship’s cat?

My parents had planned on getting a cat about six months ago, getting all the little bits like scratching posts, toys, bedding blankets, the works. But with only two of them running the business, they just didn’t have time to go look properly. But boy did we look on Sunday! With the directions to the shop instead of the cattery, it was thanks to mum’s eagle eye to spot the banner for the cattery! We pulled in and were greeted by a big pig, Elvis. He was so friendly, running over like a dog being reunited with a lost owner. Then we noticed all the mud, and how everyone was wrapped up warmly, with wellies. It wasn’t until we got in there I found out that the place had been flooded!

Thanks to the hard working volunteers who battled the floods all throughout the night to make sure the cats and kittens were safe, all the cats had a new temporary home in a big shed. Cages upon cages of adorable furry creatures all huddled together, blankets everywhere to keep them warm; it was an amazing effort to see them all safe. We let them know that we weren’t like normal people, we’re here for an older cat, not for a kitten. Of course other customers were there all looking at kittens and Joe couldn’t help but want them all! We first met Molly, a beautiful black cat with a pink tuft on her underside. Perhaps her previous owner wanted a pink cat, but the idea of dyeing a cat’s fur… probably best I don’t get angry. Then we were introduced to two handsome tabby cats, Gizzo and Nubby.

Well mum couldn’t stop stroking them. She was absolutely in love with Gizzo (left). I think she was with him a good half hour. Dad then got to have a look and they just fell in love. After a while we noticed how these two interacted with each other and learned more about their background. These two were on death row in Ireland but the charity saved them. Coming all the way from Ireland to Gloucester, then later on in their lives being almost flooded by the British weather, we dubbed them ‘Brothers in Arms’. If we wanted one, we felt we had to take the other. They were so close to each other, snuggling and licking, it would have broken our hearts to break these two apart. And just like that we decided these were the cats for us.

Being in a whole new environment with people they don’t know, in a big livingroom to poke around, they went into hiding. When we had Smokey in Ellon, Aberdeenshire over ten years ago, he too went into hiding for a few days so we know it’s completely normal. I would do the same if I were a cat! I move the food and drinks bowls to just where they are hiding so they can just chill and not have to come out of hiding to eat and drink. In little baby steps we’ll see these two come out of their shells and laze about on the sofa rather than under it!

The ship does feel more complete with these two around, and when my parents are away, I won’t feel so lonely! Maybe one day they’ll be happy enough to give me a few snuggles too.

 

 

N7 Heaven

It’s no huge surprise that I am a massive fan of the Mass Effect series. I think I’ve mentioned it enough times in previous posts! But as a fan girl of the series, winning the competition for N7 swag was the icing on the cake. I have been eyeing up an N7 hoody for at least a year. I keep going back to the store and stare at them all then decide ‘Maybe next payday.’ By that  time I’ve forgotten and thus it loops. November 7th came along and it was N7Day; a celebration of 5 years of Mass Effect. I was all over it on Twitter and entered at least three competitions. Mass Effect fans came together and shared stories, memories and favourite moments like we were all gathered for a reunion and, in a way, we all were.

I should note of course BioWare wasn’t always my favourite studio. At first it was Lionhead Studios, creators of the ever popular and timeless Black & White games. When I was 12 years old I wrote to the studio asking for advice. I am not good at programming, I’m rubbish at art, but I love your studio and I write a lot, how would I break in to the industry? I never got a response. Even to this day it mildly annoys me that they never responded. Of course I realise they are all super busy and who has the time to respond to every e-mail they ever receive? But then BioWare came along and completely blew everything else out of the water.

I was introduced to Mass Effect 1 by my best friend Joe. I only played the first game in second year of University which was three years ago. I played it on the Xbox and found the controls easy to use. The story was so exciting, the characters had such depth to them I didn’t much care if I was talking to a Turian or Quarian, I just wanted to pummel Saren’s face off. Sovereign’s speech and the realisation that Saren had been indoctrinated, well it was heartbreaking. Wanting more, I demanded to play the next instalment. Mass Effect 2 upped the game. Suddenly Garrus was up for grabs (pun wholly intended), but was pushed back by a dying assassin who called me siha. I still can’t play through ME2 without romancing Thane! To finish this rollercoaster ride was the suicide mission… I have never been so tense about a game before in my life. I kept threatening Joe, ‘If anyone dies, I will kill you!’ He gave me tiny bits of advice as to who should do what and be in which team, and everyone came out of it alive. Even Miranda and Jacob. What? I’m allowed to have least favourites…

Of course I played Mass Effect 3 and loved it, and yes I was upset about the ending, let’s get that out of the way, but I have never cried so much at a video game or even a movie as I did at Mass Effect 3. As soon as I saw the hospital as a place you could visit I knew I’d be seeing deaths of loved ones; in particular my loved one, Thane. If we just forget the ending for a second here, the Mass Effect series had me by the heartstrings the entire way through. It was all thanks to the incredible teams at BioWare. Suddenly my respect for the company skyrocketed. How they were able to collect so many amazing writers, artists, programmers, and more, was just mind boggling to me. Of course I have no idea what goes in to making such ground breaking games, but it lit a spark of interest in me that now is burning brightly.

BioWare also benefits from an amazing community. I’m not talking about just the fans, by the way, I mean the community managers, and all other employees who regularly give talks, who engage with the fans on Twitter and other social media sites, etc. Suddenly I was able to ask the questions so readily ignored by Lionhead Studios. I was able to talk directly to actual employees of the company, and share my enthusiasm for their Mass Effect series. Not only did they listen but they responded. Having won an N7Day competition was like being rewarded for my devotion and appreciation. I know it may sound far fetched and a tad dramatic, but that’s truly how much I adore the company.

I know Mass Effect 4 is slowly emerging from the shadows, teasing fans to no end, but I can’t imagine BioWare would wreck their own series. I have a lot of faith in them and I believe, despite their ME3 ending mistake, they will learn from the little glitch and continue to deliver the games they are so famous for. I would love for a First Contact War film, fully CGI, taking a page from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. I would also love a Mass Effect mmorpg, much like BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, set between the First Contact War and Shepard’s story, focussing on exploration and discovery in the  rich universe they have created. Let’s be able to play as a sassy Quarian or kick-ass Turian. Let’s explore space whilst being engaged in an enthralling storyline that can change depending on your choices. I always secretly hoped SW:TOR was a dry run for a Mass Effect mmo. Maybe it was, who knows?

Let’s wrap this huge post up. I have a couple of dream jobs and one would be working at BioWare. Heck, I don’t know what I could bring them that they don’t already have, but that’s why it’s called a dream job. Maybe I could be their small, quirky, loveable Dutch community assistant, or a marketing assistant. Everyone needs a cutesy Dutchy in their lives, BioWare could do with me… Okay, seriously now, I respect them as a company and I thoroughly enjoy their games (Dragon Age, you’re next on my list). They have given me a favourite game series that will stand the test of time no problem, and in return all I can give back is my thanks and appreciation for such a ground-breaking company.

Music In My Soul

When I was growing up my parents subjected me to a lot of different music. I say subjected to only because George Michael in particular was thrust upon my ears when mum made dinner. Every. Single. Evening! Still a lot of what I know about music is thanks to my parents. My dad was a club DJ in Eindhoven, one of the best of the best! And I believe he also played the drums at some point. He has a very big influence on my taste in music and it couldn’t be more varied.

My favourite band on the planet has to be Toto. I have seen them twice in concert and would happily see them again. Not only that but I got to meet my favourite band member Steve Lukather at the Manchester concert about five years ago now. This chance meeting plus their amazing skill and talent, with many different styles and singers, Toto will remain my favourite band until death do us part.

Having said that, Digital Love by Daft Punk will always be my favourite song ever. There is just something about it. A lot has to do with the nostalgia aspect attached. This came out when I was growing up, early teens I believe, and has stuck with me ever since. It’s simple, it’s catchy, the music video is incredible. But this song and the music by Toto are completely different. On the one hand electronic, on the other hand there’s 70’s/80’s rock.

It doesn’t stop there either! I also enjoy the amazing bass lines and catchy tunes from the disco era. The electronic funk, the slap bass, the epic dances in the videos, all amazing and all cheesy beyond belief. And yet somehow it captures my heart. If I go to a club nowadays, I will seek out the ‘cheese’ section as it will almost always play the disco funk genres. Would I rather listen to dubstep and somehow dance to that, or the catchy Tavares and proclaim over and over how heaven is missing an angel? The latter, obviously!

But that’s not to say I always enjoy orchestral music, in particular soundtracks. I explored in an earlier post how I adore video game soundtracks, in particular Mordin from the Mass Effect 3 soundtrack, but movie soundtracks are where it’s at. If a film doesn’t have a moving score, I don’t want to know. Most of the emotions on screen come to life with the sting of strings, the lone french horn, the lightness of a flute. Incredible music will always stay with you and the one above from the film The Truman Show will remain so strongly in my heart that when I hear it, I can see the whole film in my mind’s eye.

My music tastes can vary depending on mood, on the weather, on anything. But I am so glad my parents introduced me into the world of music. I can’t stand the sound of silence, but music is in my soul always.

But I Never Win

On November 7th the gamer world went a little mad for BioWare‘s Mass Effect as they celebrated 5 years of the sci-fi action game series. The whole day I was glued to Twitter and Facebook entering as many competitions as possible hoping that maybe I could win an N7 mug. But I was able to win something oh so much better.

I say better, I still got the mug. But I got all of that too! And all for a simple tweet. Tweet why you love Mass Effect. Well, as you may know from a previous post, the ME3 song Mordin will always make me cry, and so I tweeted just that little tidbit. And I won. I actually won. This is as big for me as winning the lottery. I know that may be quite sad but to a gamer, getting the merchandise you’ve wanted since completing the second game three years ago; it’s a big accomplishment.

My karma has been absolutely incredible so far this year, especially the past few months. I got to meet two YouTubers who I don’t just admire but respect. In a chance moment I was able to snag about three minutes worth of time with them, took photos, a quick chat before they had to rush off. Yes, I wish I could have taken them both out for coffee as they seem the loveliest guys on the planet, but I am still pinching myself it actually happened. So you can understand my utter surprise that I won this competition! A huge thank you to all those at FrostMediaUK who ran the competition. I am literally in your eternal debt!

Karma, thank you so bloomin’ much! I am expecting nothing for the rest of the year heh!

Fantasy vs Reality

In literature, tv and film, we are introduced to characters who steal our hearts. It might be the way they wink at the screen, the rugged adventurer, the fair haired princess, the badass sea captain, the dangerous rogue. Whatever the character, whatever the setting, they give  themselves up for offer and we lap it up. Here’s an example…

This hottie is Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings, well, it’s Viggo Mortensen playing the character of Aragorn. My mother in particular is rather fond of this character and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind being swept off her feet, rescued by the super rugged heir to the throne. Was it his mysterious nature, his skill with a sword, the romantic love affair with the Elven maiden? Who knows. But let’s think of this for a second. Would my mum really want to live in Middle Earth? If she were to be the love interest of Aragorn, surely most of the time she has to stay at home, worry sick as to when her lover will return, or wonder if he returns at all. Will be lose a limb battling goblins? He wouldn’t be working your typical 9-5 job so the over time hours and trips away from home would put a strain on their relationship. Will she eventually just say, ‘I know you’re a career man but for God’s sake Aragorn, let’s just settle down.’ And what if he did? He’s lost his skill with the sword, mum will feed him lots of yummy food and he might get fat because of his lack of adventuring. Yikes. Obese and boring Aragorn? No thank you! So surely it’s best to just leave it to fantasy?

I wish others would just see it as such. Celebrities, film stars, characters in novels, there’s something about them all that puts them in the same group of the ‘untouchables’. Here’s another example, one that’s more personal so I can describe it better. Lord Baelish of Game of Thrones, my my my. I have only read a part of the first novel but it wasn’t the novel that had me hooked. It was Aidan Gillen portraying the character on the tv series that was utterly yummy to watch. The subtle glances, the knowing smirk, the scheming, the stalking in the shadows; there’s something about Baelish. Intelligence is hot, but when it’s in the form of Irish actor Aidan Gillen, it gets hotter.

Now, as hot as that all is to me, it is strictly fantasy. He doesn’t actually exist, and even if I could be magically teleported into the world of Game of Thrones, I don’t think I’d do well there. Too much back stabbing. Plus I’m no princess or heir to the throne, I’d be of no interest to him. But let’s just imagine I am of great interest to him and he wasn’t so hooked up on Cat, then what? He wouldn’t have his reasons for doing the wonderfully cunning things he does. Then, like the fat Aragorn, he’d be a home bound man. Though you couldn’t make an honest man of Baelish even if you tried to beat it in to him, he does have his own, erm, business after all. So then what, I’m married to man I can never trust whose business is to profit off, uh, open women? That’s not the fantasy I’m buying in to. I’m buying in to the secret meetings at night, the forbidden romance, the super hot se- okay. Anyway, that is what I would call a good fantasy.

So now that we’ve explored the fantasy side (in too much detail, I know, I’m sorry), let’s look at it in a different way. We’re all attracted to qualities in people, characters, whatever, and it’s those attractions that are very interesting to dissect. My mum, like many women, was probably attracted to the badassery and ruggedness of Aragorn. I was attracted to the scheming intellect in Baelish. So many characters exist with many different qualities. It is perfectly healthy to have a crush on fantasy characters, celebrities, etc, so before you think ‘Oh God, I am so weird!’ odds are, you’re not.

The one thing we must keep in mind is, whilst some fans would love to live the fantasy, the fantasy should stay as it is. The reality is never what we think it is. We get these huge expectations in our minds but the thing is, it won’t be what you expect. It never could be. Mum can’t teleport to Middle Earth and go off with Aragorn and keep his character completely the same, just like I can’t be having a mysterious love affair with Lord Baelish. They don’t exist, their worlds don’t exist, none of it is real.

But my, my, it sure is fun to fantasise.

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